Dear Bonsall School Community,

The San Diego County Registrar of Voters is still counting ballots for Measure DD, our bond to build Bonsall High School, improve security, traffic flow, and fitness facilities throughout the District.  Official results are still coming; there are about 150,000 ballots still to count countywide so we still have a chance. However, the trend of the outstanding ballots is not favorable for the approval of DD; when the polls closed we had close to 51% yes votes but now it is closer to 50%; we needed 55% to pass. Proposition 51, the $9 billion School Construction Bond was approved, so regardless of the outcome of this election we intend to move forward on the construction of the High School to access the Prop 51 matching funds.  We can’t afford to leave millions on the table.

With gratitude on our minds this Thanksgiving season we want to let everyone know how grateful we are for their support for the approval of Measure DD; so many students, parents, and other members of our school community showed their understanding of the need our school community has to proactively respond to the accelerating pace of growth in our District.  We are particularly grateful to the voters, but it is important to recognize the students that chose to join the Yes on DD campaign, and those that managed the social media.

Providing an opportunity for students to join the campaign helped them become part of history and gain an understanding of just how wonderfully precious, and vulnerable our republic’s democratic system is. They didn’t just read about it; our students experienced first hand what a struggle it is to promote civil discourse and truthful campaigning in the face of the ugly side of our political disagreements.  With social media this has become more difficult than ever and that also makes us particularly grateful for Larissa Anderson’s oversight, and Gina McInerny’s tireless late night and early morning online watch for misinformation, as well as their efforts to preserve a truthful message and honest campaign.

Misinformation is toxic to a healthy political system.  Digital literacy training in great schools today is helping students evaluate information.  Just because it is said on the internet doesn’t make it true; the motivation of the author always needs to be considered. The majority of people middle aged and older never had such training and the results are that media has become the driving force for influencing voters. Now with social media, the neuroscience behind campaigning has become far more sophisticated than ever.  Our brain’s amygdala, the center of our emotions like fear, anger, and disgust, can hijack the brain into a fight or flight stage and prevent the reasoning, cognitive dissonance, and future orientation from taking place in the frontal lobes.  After middle age our synapses prune themselves to fewer connections in the brain and it becomes easier to reach a state of irritation based on fear or anger.  This is what makes negative campaigning so powerful.

Given this playing field, truth, kindness and composure can’t match loud, angry accusations and judgment for many people.  Such delivery demands our brain’s attention and has been successfully used by a variety of media groups.  Awareness of such manipulation will become more widespread as our instruction and curriculum develop to help students become more aware of how their brain development is linked to their level of survival.

One of the best brain states to be in is one of thankfulness; gratitude has often proven to be an incredible promoter of health.  Such health is not just freedom from illness; it is optimal performance.  The opportunity to serve the Bonsall school community is one of the parts of my life I am most grateful for.  Thank you for all you do to support our, “Academic excellence and support for all students to be highly competitive in their chosen career path and/or college”.  Happy Thanksgiving!

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Sincerely,

Justin Cunningham

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